Bone-chilling legends of the Paris Catacombs


Buried beneath the streets of Paris you’ll discover the Paris Catacombs, preserving the bones of over 6 million people. Created due to a shortage of burial space, the Paris Catacombs are one of Paris’ eeriest and most mysterious sites. A plethora of legends and folklore surrounding this ossuary, lure more and more travelers each year to experience the darker side of the City of Light.

The uncovered video camera

One of the most spine tingling stories of the Paris Catacombs is the Uncovered Video Camera. In the early 1990’s, a group of cataphiles (experts that specialize in the study and exploration of the Paris Catacombs) were traversing through the dark chambers of the ossuary. They happened upon an abandoned video camera lying on the ground. Much to their surprise, the camera had video footage stored. As the group of experts replayed the footage, they heard disturbing noises.

It became apparent that the man who owned the video camera was lost in the intricate maze of tunnels and had no idea how to escape. Anyone who viewed the footage can clearly deduce, the man was going mad. The video footage abruptly ends with the man dropping his camera on the ground. To this day, the identity of the man remains unknown, or if he came out alive. Many have said the movie “As Above, So Below” was inspired by this tragedy.

Voices at midnight

Possibly linked to the above video camera story, a famous Paris Catacombs legend claims a mystifying event occurs within the burial site after midnight. If you are inside the Paris Catacombs after midnight, the walls begin to speak with voices of the dead and buried. Disembodied voices will try to persuade you to venture deeper and deeper into the Catacombs until you are lost leading to an impending doom.

The ghost of Philibert Aspairt

During the French revolution, Philibert Apsairt was a doorman at the Val-de-Grâce hospital. Aspairt was dispatched to fetch a certain liqueur from a cellar, but mistakenly entered the Paris Catacombs instead. Wandering around the pitch black Catacombs alone guided by the light of a single candle, Aspairt became lost and incredibly confused. Many believe he was intoxicated at the time.

At this point, his candle extinguished making it virtually impossible to escape the abyss of darkness. His body was not found until 11 years later when a group of cataphiles uncovered it. They were able to identify him by the hospital key ring hanging from his belt. Out of respect, Aspairt was buried in the Catacombs in the exact spot where he died with a tombstone describing his death. Cataphiles and Catacombs folklore tellers say that each November 3rd, Philibert’s ghost haunts the labyrinth of the Catacombs.

Secret hideout inside of the Paris Catacombs

In 2004, a group of police officers was exploring a part of the Paris Catacombs that was restricted from public access and began to uncover very strange things. They found a PA system with pre-recorded guard dog barking noises, a 3,000 square feet of gallery space wired with phones using pirated electricity and several communal spaces including a bar, living area, workshop, lounge and even a 20 seat cinema.

The cinema seats were carved into the stones of the Catacombs. The creepiest part was, the cameras mounted on the ceilings that were recording them. A few days later the police squad returned to perform further investigations on their findings. Everything they had discovered, from the phone lines to the Paris Catacombs cinema, had vanished. The only thing they found was a note that read: “Ne cherchez pas,” meaning, “don’t search”.

Sean Finelli is CEO at The Tour Guy. The Tour Guy and its suite of brands, The Roman Guy and Finelli & Shaw, offer globetrotters uniquely curated experiences across Europe.

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Comments (9)

  1. Claire Smith says:

    Paris is my favourite European city and I try to visit every few years but I think after reading this that I will have a very different take on the city in the future. The average visitor has no idea on how many souls lie beneath their feet.

  2. Neil Russell says:

    The last story about the secret hide-out is amazing. I don’t know whether I want the mystery to remain or whether I’d like it solved. There must be a great book, documentary or film in there somewhere. Surely there must be an investigative journalist working on it in the back streets of Paris?

  3. Hannah Lowry says:

    A guy I know who lives in Spain has recently been on his yearly travels and he went to Paris this time around – I’ve just seen his photos from the Catacombs! I find them so fascinating, in a very darkly intriguing kind of way. These stories are so creepy! The secret cinema type of space with PA system, that then vanished? I’d never heard of that being found before! I’m not surprised some report hearing creepy things, it’s surely got to be a top haunting spot for those who believe in such things. I’ve never been so I’m not sure how it works with visiting there. Can you even go in after midnight, or would that have to be with a special visiting tour?

  4. Shane C. says:

    The catacombs remind me very much of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, although that was set in London and not Paris. I find it fascinating that such a world exists just beneath the twinkling lights and bustle of Paris. And while it was interesting because of the history and the paranormal activity, I don’t think you’ll find me there when I visit Paris.

  5. James says:

    I’m a sort of Maths guy. I like to see and tell stories in numbers. So there are 6 million souls under Paris. Though that‘s going to be the centre of Paris right? They wouldn’t have had suburbs back then.

    That means we’re talking of around 6 million people living and working and holidaying in Central Paris. That means every person could have their own deceased soul or more positively every dead person could have a person still enjoying Paris for them. I’d find that kind of comforting.

  6. Terri W. says:

    A friend told me about this and I had the chance to read about it online and the stories are quite spooky yet very interesting. Just looking at the photos make your hairs stand up. The way the bones are stacked up like that and how they managed to form it into the Paris catacombs that we know today. I’ve also heard stories about it like the ones in the article, visitors hearing voices as they walk through the place. Some also said that they can almost feel all the emotions and sentiments of those dead people who are buried there. This place is fantastic for horror geeks like me.

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